Wednesday, February 13, 2008 – 3:00 PM CST
Wichita Business Journal
Don and Judy Slawson and family are the lead donors to the Sedgwick County Zoo’s fund-raising efforts to bring in a new Asian tiger exhibit.
The Slawsons, along with their three sons and daughters-in-law, initially had chosen to remain anonymous. Slawson Companies is best known for local commercial developments, including NewMarket Square, Oak Creek and Cross Pointe.
“They approached us with the idea of bringing tigers back to the zoo,” says Mark C. Reed, executive director, in a written statement. “It’s been more than 10 years since tigers have been part of the zoo family.”
The Slawsons donated the first $1 million in November 2006 and challenged the Zoo Foundation to raise a second million. The challenge was met in December 2007 with the completion of the zoo’s successful fund-raising campaign. The Slawsons responded with the donation of another million dollars to cover the new exhibit’s projected $3 million cost.
This state-of-the-art exhibit will be located next to the Asian Forest and north of the Downing Gorilla Forest’s Nganda Island. It will provide complete management resources for maintaining tigers.
Site work is projected to begin in late February and the exhibit’s anticipated opening is May 2009.
“Tigers have often been used as symbols of strength and power, but their survival is threatened as human populations continue to encroach upon their habitats,” Don Slawson said, in a written statement. “Our family views this new exhibit as a way to protect and preserve the species while giving back to the community that has meant so much to us.”
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